The Royal Australian Air Force’s first MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System was rolled out in September as part of a partnership between the Department of Defence, US Navy and Northrop Grumman. The aircraft was rolled out on September 14 at Northrop Grumman’s Palmsdale, California, site, where the company is assembling a total of three Tritons. Australia ordered the first two units in 2019 and the third one in 2020. The Australian Government Department of Defence expects the first of up to seven Australian MQ-4C Triton aircraft, including the relevant ground and support systems, to be completed and delivered to Australia in 2024.
Head Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney said,”The partnership will allow for not only intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles but it will support a broad range of joint effects and fully integrate into Air Force’s combat architecture. This partnership is pushing the boundaries of Air Power to pursue a truly advanced platform that will provide both a foundational capability and a growth path for future decades. Once in service, the remotely piloted High Altitude Long Endurance aerial system will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s north and north-western approaches, in the south-west Pacific and south to Antarctica.”
Head Aerospace Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal Leon Phillips, commended Defence’s effective partnership with the United States Navy through the Triton Cooperative Program and with the manufacturer of the Triton, Northrop Grumman. “This project is an excellent example of the successful partnership between our two nations and reflects the collaborative work between Defence and defence industry in delivering this strategic capability. Defence will invest more than $900 million in Australian industry, including sustainment, ICT and facilities,” Air Vice-Marshal Phillips said.
The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is an American high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under development for the United States Navy as a surveillance aircraft. Together with its associated ground control station, it is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, conduct search and rescue missions, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.